Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Passing and Being Passed

Buckley. A dog I get to pet, but do not have to walk!
Co-Working Change My Life
I got some feedback from my wife and kids last week that I seem generally happier and more "tuned in" when I am at home than I have in the past few years. Additionally  I have been feeling much more productive at work. I chalk these changes up almost totally to adopting a co-working lifestyle.

I'm sure you are all away that Canonical is mostly a distributed company. We work from all over the world in online spaces. This is great. It has meant that I have gotten to know people from all the world. I've learned a little French. I make my own schedule. Working for a distributed company has been so enriching in so many ways, I don't see how I could ever go back to a real office environment.

Working for a distributed company has also meant that I have been working at home the last 4+ years. In many ways, this has been great. I've spent zero hours commuting, as one small example. 
Office Nomads
The friendly and helpful proprietors of Office Nomads
For various reasons, I decided to give co-working a try, and I am surprised how well I have taken to it. Co-working means that I "go to work" in a large shared office space. Practically, it means that I share resources such as networking, printers, desks, dogs, etc... 
Some nomads doing their thing
The area where I work. I usually take the standing desk to the left.

On the impractical side, it means that I share in the positivity of other people also doing what they love. Hearing people work, chatting with folks when I get in, having lunch with other people, etc... This has all been great for me, personally. I think there is a certain element of just getting out of the house and not being isolated. But the atmosphere at Office Nomads is high productivity, and I can't help but to feed off the buzz. I think the community building aspects of their mission is harmonious with my values, as well.
If you work in a distributed environment, I highly recommend giving co-working a try. If you are working independently in Seattle, I strongly recommend you join Office Nomads. 
Getting There

It's been a very unreal sprint in Seattle. Reliably nice weather most days. So, since I am traveling to Office Nomads, I take my bicycle almost every day. This builds  in free exercise for me, and is slightly faster than the bus. As a result, I have been biking more and more.

I flatter myself to think that I am relatively fit these days. None the less, I get passed by other bicyclists most days. When I get passed, I notice. I noticed that I have about three responses when this happens.

  • Nice Bike! Often I am passed by much more serious bicyclists, and I notice their bikes costs many times what mine costs. However, this thought is really a small cop out. The fact is, they are all probably more fit and better at bicycling than I am, and generally invest more effort it in, that's why they are passing me. If we switched bikes, they'd still be faster than me.
  • Good for you! This is more typical. I can admire that the passer is more engaged, fitter, and just generally cares more about going fast at this point in time than I do. Someone going faster than me takes absolutely nothing away from my experience, and it's cool that they an do it.
  • Oops. Sometimes when I get passed I realize that my mind has wandered. I forgot to keep going fast. This is helpful. Realizing that I am daydreaming instead of focused on going fast, I can decide, to go fast, or maybe I decide I am happy day dreaming. In this way, someone passing me not only doesn't take anything from me, but it grants me something positive.

I pass more people than pass me, by a wide margin. Sometimes on longer, lonelier, rides, I observer other bicyclists as I pass them. The overwhelming majority of people I pass show essentially no response. They couldn't care less that I am passing them. Some folks even take advantage of the situation and draft behind me. They can go a little faster "for free" by letting my cut through the air for them.

However, sometimes, I sense a certain amount of rage from people I pass. I can see it in their faces and body language. The fact that I am fitter and working harder takes nothing from these people, but it seems to bother them that someone can go faster than them. For this set of people, a common response is for them to work really hard to pass my back. This means that my presence was helpful for them if they want to go faster, but often, it's not sustainable for them, and I end up soon passing them again, and leaving them far behind. These folks end up with a self-inflicted net loss. They have a loss of pleasure, and they end up being driven by being passed, rather than being driven by what they want to do. A shame, really.

As an aside, one time I was coming back from a very long ride, and took a break, going slowly for a few miles before my final push home. During this time, I heard someone pumping behind me. Finally, I was passed by someone clearly working to get back in shape. I was going the perfect speed for them, just fast enough that it was a challenge to pass me. As he passed, and I saw the look of pride mixed with exhaustion on his face, my heart went out to him. When it was time for me to go fast again, I quickly caught up with him, but then I fell behind. I just didn't have the heart to show him what going really fast looks like.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Social Phone

Yesterday I blogged about how psyched I was to have cellular data on my phone. Then I listed some things that the Ubuntu Touch needed to reach parity with my old Android phone, for me, personally. One of those missing things was a way to share images from my phone. But look! This actually works already. It turns out that there is a good start of social integration already started and working. 

Thanks to Bill Filler for walking me through the simple steps. Here's what to do if you want to get Twitter working.

Step 1: In your terminal, run the command $uoa-create twittter . So for me, I did "uoa-create twitter rickspencer3".(to get Facebook integration use $uoa-create facebook

Step 2: Wait for the Twitter auth web page to open. For some reason it is really tiny and you can't zoom it. The Facebook page is also tiny, but you can zoom it. However, be careful, the Facebook page requires you to click the commit button, which is way down on the bottom right. 

Step 3: Go to the Application lens. Search for the Friends app, and launch it.
Step 4: Glory in having your timeline on your phone!

Note that only Twitter and Facebook are integrated so far, more networks coming soon. Also note that you can't tweet pics from your gallery yet, but that is coming soon as well.

Of course, we can't rely on using a terminal to set up things like this. I'll be excited to see more social networks and a a GUI configurator land in the image.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dog Fooding Success

Last week I was in Washington DC house hunting (successfully, I might add ;) ). Since I abandoned my Android phone for full time Ubuntu Touch phone, the lack of cellular data was painful, but not as painful as I thought it would be because there was wireless everywhere. However, there were a couple of times that I would have liked to have checked email and such when I wasn't around wireless. Also, I get lost easily, so not being able to check a map was a painful regression once or twice.

So, today, I was really happy to get the cellular data set up on my phone, and knock around Seattle a bit trying it out. It worked really well. It was interesting to see how so much of the slowness of my old phone was the phone itself, and not the cellular network speed as I had thought. I got a nice snappy experience on Ubuntu Touch.

In the image above, you can see that one needs to use the terminal to turn the cellular data connection on and off. I wish we had co-developed the GUI with the backend support. I would like us to start thinking more across the team, seeing if we can bring experiences out in full. That said, I know it was a huge amount of work to get data working, and having the back end working and keeping it working is certainly a solid way to develop. So, great job to the Phonedations team!

Having cellular data completes the "daily driver" goals we set! Never one to rest, now I am thinking about what would bring parity for my Ubuntu Touch phone in terms of the features that I actually used on my Android phone. The list is modest:

  1. My phone sometimes gets hot and then the batter runs down faster than it should. Would love to figure out what is going on there and get longer batter life.
  2. Getting pictures *off* my phone. I can take pictures, but can't share them yet.
  3. Loading up and watching videos. I like to take videos to the gym and on trips and watch them on my phone sometimes.
  4. Euchre. I know this is silly, but I have passed a lot of time playing this card game on my last phone. Maybe I can make my own implementation, but programming a card game seems like it would best be done with a framework, and it's not really up my ally.
I'm sure everyone has a different list like this, but I bet I am the only one with Euchre on their list. :)